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Am J Epidemiol. 2013 Jul 15;178(2):184-9. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwt101. Epub 2013 Jun 21.

Invited commentary: are dietary intakes and other exposures in childhood and adolescence important for adult cancers?

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  • 1Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, National Cancer Institute, 9609 Medical Center Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892-9762, USA. potischn@mail.nih.gov

Abstract

In this issue of the Journal, Nimptsch et al. (Am J Epidemiol. 2013;178(2):172-183) report significant associations between female adolescents' poultry consumption in high school and subsequent reduced risk of colorectal adenomas in adulthood. Consumption of red meat or fish was not related to risk, but replacement with poultry reduced the risk of later adenomas. Most epidemiologic studies of adult diseases lack exposure data from the distant past. By focusing on a cancer precursor lesion and using a variety of methods to assess data quality, the investigators address concerns about the quality of distant recall. These findings add to the growing evidence that links childhood and adolescent lifestyle and environmental exposures with subsequent risk of cancers arising in adulthood. Highlights of the literature on this topic and methodological challenges are summarized. Future studies would benefit from incorporating measures of lifestyle, diet, environmental exposures, and other risk factors from early in life and from validation and other data quality checks of such measurements. Sources of historical data on children's and adolescents' exposures should be sought and evaluated in conjunction with subsequent exposures in relationship to adult-onset cancers.

KEYWORDS:

adolescence; diet; distant past; life course; methods; recall

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